Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

November 2006

You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her



Using Skype



Q: Please can you tell me how you use software such as Skype over the Internet to make telephone calls.



A: There are two good reasons for using computer software to make calls:

a. It is completely free if you call another registered user. For overseas calls or those long, regular chats, this is extremely welcome.
b. Calls to landlines or mobiles from your computer are often considerably cheaper.



If we just consider Skype, although all Internet telephony programs work in a similar way, the software is free. If you go to  you can download the program and install it on your computer in the same way as you install any other program over the Internet.

You will need to be running a reasonably modern computer, and use broadband for Internet access.

To listen and talk to people, you will either need headphones and a microphone, or an inexpensive VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) USB telephone. This plugs into a USB socket on your computer and can be held in the same was as a telephone. Prices start from around ?12 (or ?5 on eBay).



Register on Skype with a user-name and password, and you can use the system straight away. A green icon on the task bar will give you access to the system easily, as well as letting you change from on to offline.



Click the icon to open the Skype control panel.

First follow the instructions to check that your telephone or microphone and headphones are working correctly – you can make this test call whenever you like.

To phone people who are registered users, you must either know their Skype name or find it using the search facilities. Click the Search button and enter their e-mail address, Skype or full name and also any other details such as their country and town. You may need to know which names or e-mail addresses they have registered with as you do NOT dial their home phone number and should not assume they use a particular contact address.




When you find the correct person, add their details to your Contacts list if you want to phone them regularly.



Then click their name in your address book – on the Contacts tab - and click the green button to start the call. You can check first of all that they are online as you will see the green online icon at the bottom of the screen.

For people to phone you for free, you may want to give them your Skype name so that they can find your details easily in the database.


Paid Services

There are two services you may want to pay for: being able to dial a landline or mobile (SkypeOut) and allowing people to phone you using their normal telephone (SkypeIn).


SkypeOut – you can set up an account with Skype and buy telephone credits. Then, you can simply enter the phone number of the person you want to call and the money you spend will be deducted from your account. Details of what is left will be displayed in the top, right-hand corner of the control panel.

If you want to top up your account, buy credit either from your account page on the Skype website or via the yellow exclamation mark link on the control panel next to the record of your remaining credit.

SkypeIn – If you travel around a great deal or want to be accessed via the computer, pay for a phone number that people can use when dialling in the normal way.




View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


back to laterlife today

Site map and site search



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti